What’s in an Email?


Email is something we all take for granted, and the modern world would probably come to a halt without it. While most of the time we get to ignore the way email works, we are all too painfully aware of it when it doesn’t.  So it IS worth understanding a little bit about the humble email account.


To complicate life there are three related things: Domain Name, Email Account and Website. Put simply your domain name is just that, a name. Something like yourdomain.co.nz. This domain name does two main clever things. 1) It points website traffic to your website. 2) It points email to your email account. To really complicate things, these three can all be ‘hosted’ or be situated in different places! OR they can all be in the same place. Confused yet? It’s quite possible for your domain name to be hosted by a domain company. You may have bought it directly yourself. Then you website and email account may be hosted together at a web hosting company. You may even have your domain and email managed by an IT support company, and the domain just points the web traffic to your website hosted with your web company. There are a lot of configurations.


Email accounts themselves can be made in many different forms. The simplest and least robust is POP3. This doesn’t lend itself to scaling up to lots of accounts, or to large amounts of storage of emails. Typically you set up your POP3 email account in an email program like Outlook, or you may access it directly online through an online email portal. But more and more these days people are setting up POP3 accounts directly into their Gmail and also onto their phones. The options and settings are endless.


Historically when email for larger businesses became a problem the solution would be a mail server. Dedicated and expensive, but relatively robust and secure. This involved investing in hardware in the office or located at your IT support company. These still have their place.


A few years ago we started to notice some of our clients setting up enterprise mail through Google. This isn’t an advertisement for Google or Microsoft, but in recent times we are noticing more clients setting up with Microsoft Office365. Both of these options simply require some details setup with your domain name hosting (Remember the part earlier about domain name pointing mail traffic to your email account?). From feedback we’ve heard and from our own experience this is a really seamless way of doing email. The interesting thing is that you get the same sort of robustness and security as you got in the past with a mail server. Office365 appears to be very scalable for the small to medium size enterprise and at a very reasonable monthly fee. I would recommend it to anyone wanting something better than POP3, feel free to ask us if you need to be referred to an IT support company that can help you with this.


With the myriad of setup options around mail there can be all sorts of issues. For instance POP3 has a tendency to ‘go down’ meaning you can’t access email at times. We’ve all experienced that.

Depending on your setup, mail may be left on hosted mail servers and not downloaded to your email program. This happens with POP3 in Gmail. The hosting company we use has recently indicated some clients doing this have too much email stored on the server, beyond what they term ‘fair use’. In this instance email needs to be deleted off to free up space, or the space will be charged. We will be in touch if this affects you. If you are in this position, we can arrange for email prior to a certain date to be deleted off the server.